EBENSBURG – An attempt by former employers of Johnnie W. Barto to dismiss lawsuits brought in court by 45 of the former pediatrician’s victims and their families was dismissed by Judge Norman A. Krumenacker, president of Cambria County, the Tribune Democrat has learned.
Krumenacker rejected attempts by Laurel Pediatrics, Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital, Johnstown Pediatrics, and Duke Lifepoint Healthcare to dismiss the lawsuits.
Barto, 73, was sentenced to 79 to 158 years in prison after his 2019 conviction on charges related to the sexual abuse of 31 victims over several decades. He is currently serving his sentence at SCI-Waymart in Wayne County.
The plaintiffs in the civil cases are all identified as John Doe and Jane Doe, according to court documentation.
Krumenacker has rejected the objections of all four parties as follows:
• Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital: vicarious liability for child sexual assault, negligent hiring, negligent supervision, negligent misrepresentation, negligent inflicting emotional distress, civil conspiracy to protect reputation and finances, medical negligence, Title IX violations, and corporate negligence.
• Johnstown Pediatric Associates: sexual assault and vicarious liability in children, civil conspiracy to protect reputation and finances, and medical negligence.
• Laurel Pediatric Associates: sexual assault and vicarious liability in children, intentional inflicting emotional distress, and civil conspiracy to protect reputation and finances.
• Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center and Duke Lifepoint Healthcare: vicarious liability for child sexual assault, negligent hiring, negligent supervision, negligent misrepresentation, negligent emotional distress, civil conspiracy to protect reputation and finances, medical negligence, title violations IX and Business Negligence.
The judge also denied motions to delete references to “specialized medical judgment” and “special duty of care” and objections to ceasing punitive damages.
The ruling was filed on April 16.
Earlier this week, The Associated Press reported that prominent Republican state senators expressed support for legislation in Pennsylvania to change the law so that now adult victims of child sexual abuse can prosecute the perpetrators, or institutions that have prevented acts years or decades earlier. .
The report went on to say that youth victims of sexual assault lost the right to sue in Pennsylvania when they turned 18 or were young adults, subject to then state law.
Krumenacker heard defense counsel’s arguments about the appeal on February 17.
Shawn Curtis is a reporter for The Tribune Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5085. Follow him on Twitter @ ShawnCurtis430.